Matters of moment

Stop clobbering us . . .

There are about 18-million driving licence-holders in this country. The majority of us are decent, law-abiding citizens. A great many of us require a licence to drive in order that we can earn a living. We are getting heartily sick of the chance of losing it by scoring three endorsements over the long period of three years. We are fully in agreement with taking off the road those who drink and drive, take drugs and drive, act in a completely incompetent manner whilst in charge of motor vehicles, or who prove, unfortunately, to be unable to control them even if well meaning. Alas, the authorities are not content to leave it there.

Licences are endorsed for non-criminal, purely-technical offences. Over a three-year period it is all too easy for sound safe drivers who are otherwise impeccable citizens to lose their right to drive. How much longer are we going to tolerate this dismal state of affairs?

One prolific cause of endorsements is the radar speed-trap. These hidden traps are usually operated at very long intervals on straight open stretches of road. Those caught are caught by chance. They are then apprehended for exceeding a speed-limit which, if of the 30-m.p.h. shade, was introduced more than 40 years ago at the time when the overall 20-m.p.h. limit was sensibly abolished. So it is an antiquated limit, in these days of universal four-wheel-brakes and vastly improved cars and tyres. It is a Law broken by everyone, clerics, police, Magistrates, timid lawabiders and criminals, alike. A Law thus broken is a bad Law and should be abolished.

To only enforce it at rare intervals, with electronic traps the accurate reading of which a driver can seldom question, operated by a policeman he never so much as encounters, and to endorse the licence because a speed slightly over that laid down in 1930 is alleged to have been momentarily exceeded, is bad legislation. It is doubly so when it can so easily lead to loss of licence and livelihood, at a time when more and more Magistrates tend to put on probation those who have committed thefts, acts of violence and other criminal practices. We do not believe that many, if any, Chief Constables or Magistrates truly believe that this very occasional trapping has any bearing at all on increased road safety. At best it indicates that the town speed-limit is too low.

Radar trapping and licence endorsement, with the ever-present threat of loss of licence if you are unlucky enough to score three in three years (perhaps in over 100,000 miles of business motoring), merely embitters decent drivers against the Establishment. We question the value of thus treating the Nation's vehicle-users, especially at a time when the Police have more important tasks to perform and when, if anarchy be round the corner, they will need, as never before, the loyal support of every reliable citizen, of whom so many are motor vehicle drivers.

At a time when HMG wants to speed-up town traffic and would like to make seat-belts compulsory it must consider raising the antiquated 30-m.p.h. speed-limit at the same time as it abolishes the 70-m.p.h. overall limit, at all events on Motorways, to bring us into line with the rest of Europe. Fines for exceeding speed limits are excessively high, goodness knows. Endorsements should be used for more serious breaches of the Highway Code.

We would be interested to know how many drivers agree with us and how many who previously kept out of the Courts have recently had their licences endorsed for mildly exceeding a speed-limit and for no other reason. We wonder who will be the first Chief Constable to concur with our views and whether the ordinary policeman, so quickly called upon when trouble and disaster strike and so courageously quick to answer such emergency calls, enjoys spoiling his public image by catching a few luckless drivers, with his radar-trap?

Already some enlightened Police Forces are issuing cautions for first-time speed-limit offences, which not only saves much valuable time and paperwork but seems to us an excellent public relations operation. There are over 18-million of us! Surely we can obtain an extension of such welcome concessions, and lobby for less-savage fines, a reduction in licence endorsement-life, more realistic speed restrictions and greater leniency towards those with good driving records if they may fall foul of them?

Finally, on the matter of speed-limits, can an intelligent person explain why there is a 50 m.p.h. restriction on the fine new dual-carriageway Oxford Ring Road when the similar A40 road immediately beyond it is de-restricted?

Miniatures News

YARDLEY'S announce than the latest Corgi Mettoy racing-car miniature is a 1/36th-scale reproduction of a McLaren M19A in the Yardley orange, white and "Y" motif with Goodyear tyres, as raced for Yardley last season by Hulme, Revson and Redman. It is, as expected of Corgi miniatures, very detailed, with, of course, a good representation of a V8 Cosworth-Ford engine in the tail and it is to be sold both as a model and to be incorporated in Yardley's 1973 gift packs of men's toiletries. It is expected to sell for 59p.—W. B.

The ME Exhibition

THE TRADITIONAL "Model Engineer" Exhibition was in full swing at the Seymour Hall last month, with electrically-powered aeroplanes flying overhead, radio-controlled diesel boats cavorting in the swimming pool and steam locos hauling human loads along a length of track. If the latter still steal the show, model traction engines are running them close these days. We liked particularly an extremely big one, which was accompanied by a set of miniature tools and its full-size licence holder for display when it goes out on the road! The Meccano Cup went to a big Showman's engine in this material. Model cars were not prolific but we noticed a fair representation of a GP Bugatti adapted to accommodate a single-cylinder i.e. engine, which necessitated rear suspension not in accordance with Molsheim principles. There was a large but simple Sentinel steam-waggon on the Stuart-Turner stand, powered with one of their steam plants, but the attendant could not tell us front what the waggon, with realistic solid-tyred wheels, was made, although it wasn't Meccano. A Meccano representation of a 1915 B-type London 'Bus used effectively those Meccano artillery wheels intended for horse-drawn vehicles. The whole thing was as fascinating as ever, 'even if, these days, model engineering apparently covers clocks, toy soldiers, harps, miniature buildings, wood carvings, etc. We liked a flying scale model Flying Flea and for those who have mastered chess there were the war games, battles fought to a formula of how far each tank, truck, foot soldier, messenger and the rest can travel in 30 seconds, scaled down, for each move.

Where is it now?

ROBIN JACKSON, well known to Brooklands habituels, is anxious to know what became of a Morris Minor in which he installed a Coventry-Climax engine. Can anyone tell him?

A New House Journal

FIAT (England) Limited have anew quarterly house magazine, Pronto, edited by Tom Walkerley.

Getting it Right

IN LAST month's European road-test of a BMW 3.0 CSL it was stared that the car had Michelin XAX tyres, which were very highly spoken of. We have no reason to retract the good opinion we formed of these tyres under very arduous high-speed conditions but would state that, in fact, they were Michelin XWX tyres. These Michelins are low-profile high-performance tyres safe for speeds in excess of 120 m.p.h. They are fitted as standard to BMW, Citroen, Lamhorghini, Porsche and Maserati cars. They replace the former Michelin XVR tyre. The range is completed by the Michelin ZX in tubed and tubeless forms, an economy tyre safe to 113 m.p.h., the XAS/XVS which is the only asymmetrical-treaded tyre in the World, for extreme adhesion and life, safe to 113 m.p.h., and used on Ford Granada, Triumph Stag, BMW, etc., and the go-anywhere XMS, to the deep block tread of which studs can be fitted, and which is used on the Range Rover.

While on the topic of Michelin tyres, I remarked that the XAS covers on the back wheels of the BMW 2500 I am testing seemed to have worn a bit thin, after 15,000 miles. In their defence it has been found that the front wheels were incorrectly tracked and that as the tyres had been rotated the back ones came in for some of the accelerated wear. In fact, at this mileage the back ones had 2 mm. of tread each, the n/s front tyre 3 mm, and the o/s front tyre 4 mm., so all were within legal requirements. With the front wheels tracked parallel to 1/2 in. toe-in, instead of 1/4 in. toe-out, considerably longer life should be achieved. (The BMW recommendation is a 1 mm. toe-in, plus or minus 1 mm).

Errata

IN the article "Sorting out the Sunbeams", on page 133, it is suggested that Dunfee's car was called "Puppy". I have since confirmed that this was the W. B. Scott/Mrs. Scott Sunbeam, which may save readers their stamps in writing to tell me so.—W.B.